Critical Feed Program Ends

Monday marks the end of an industry saving program by the United States Department of Agriculture.

For almost five months we've been covering the drought conditions in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Starting in July the Critical Feed Use program allowed ranchers to hay or graze conservation reserve land.

Outside of this program, landowners are paid to keep that land natural.

By managing this natural land many experts say it has kept dust bowl like conditions from engulfing the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Many ranchers say without this program too much conservation could be bad for this land.

"In the long run I think it will have helped it. because it will get the dead stuff off and new growth." said Ronnie Cochran, a Cimarron County farmer and rancher.

"Grazing it, I think next year it's going to come back better, tromping seed into it helps plant more seed. And I think next year you're going to see even better grass here," said Paul Lowe, another Cimarron County farmer and rancher.

The drought caused many pasture lands to be eaten down to the dirt.

Without this critical feed program Cimarron county could have lost nearly all of it's ranching operations.

Now those ranchers will head into the winter with healthy herds, and the hope for rain.